Blog Archive

Monday, May 30, 2011

Harms Family Update

It's almost been a week since Ava joined our family "on the outside" and while this week has been full of ups and downs, we are in a really good place and feeling so thankful for the tremendous outpouring of prayers, encouragement and support we continue to receive.

Ava is doing amazingly well. She's acting older than her little 28 week old self and one by one is getting rid of tubes and wires. Hopefully today will be her last day under the bili lights. Her "numbers" look good and she's pooping well, so tomorrow we might get to see her in living color. She is now getting 10ccs (2tsp) of milk every 3 hours and as long as she tolerates it, they'll increase her feeds every 12 hours so soon she'll be up to 28 ccs (just under 1 oz) at each feeding! So while she's loosing weight now (she weighed 2lbs, 7 oz today) we're very hopeful she'll start to get some meat on those little bones soon! She's also breathing really well, so if she cooperates, they will try to take her off her "forced air" tomorrow, which means those tubes in her nose will go away! She'll still have her NG (naso-gastric) tube so we can drop her food right into her belly, but she doesn't seem to mind and it's such an easy way for her to get her nutrition, so we're thankful for it! (The picture is from this morning...she didn't like the flash on the camera!)

The big girls are doing well at home. Hannah Mae is definitely happier having mama around more. She's coped so well with my bed-rest and days away in the hospital. I'm so thankful for our sweet, content little one.

Ruby is definitely the most emotionally aware of what's going on. She's much more calm with me at home more, but we need discernment about how to help her handle what will be a long journey before Ava gets home and our family turns "normal" again. I think if she could she would come to the hospital and sit with me and Ava all afternoon, though when I told her she couldn't come this morning, but maybe she could come play with Ava tomorrow, she said, "Mom, we can't play with Ava, she's in a BOX!" So maybe she's better adjusted than we realize!

Elizabeth is doing okay. She continues to fight a cold she's had for the last two weeks, so she hasn't met Ava yet, but she doesn't seem to troubled by it. The last few months have been a real struggle for her. It's been hard for her to have her very regular schedule disrupted by my bed-rest and hospitalizations and multiple caregivers. On the flip side, we've seen a real improvement since I've been home more and are praying for wisdom about how to shepherd her little heart.

I think for the first time in the last 6 years, Elizabeth is not the center of our family focus. However, in the middle of all that's going on with Ava:

*We're trying to make some decisions about her schooling next year, and a key component is the therapy services she needs. We're also still very aware that her health may be a prohibitive factor and ultimately, we need God to guide us.
*At her recent ENT appointment, her audiogram showed that she has definite conductive hearing loss and might benefit from some assistance with her hearing.
*We cancelled an endoscopy last month because I was on my way to my first hospitalization, but now that things are more stable (a crazy thought), Elizabeth will have an endoscopy on the June 6th to see how the veins in her esophagus are doing.
*In fantastic news, Elizabeth is growing like a champ and remains firmly on the "normal" girls growth chart. Yay!

My mom was able to change her flight home again so she'll stay with us until Wednesday, when my sweet sister-in-law will arrive to help us for 10 days. Tonight we had our first family outing in ages and enjoyed a picnic in the park with friends. I spend about 7 hours a day up in Ava's room in the NICU and Matt continues to work hard to catch up from all the time he's spent serving our family during my bed-rest, but we're both so thankful to wake up together and for more family time in the evenings. We continue to be so blessed by meals, all the help with errands and entertainment for the girls. We truly wouldn't be surviving this without help from so many of you.  THANK YOU for every email, text and voicemail. I read and listen to every one and even though you're not hearing from me, please know that we are so grateful for you!!

We love you and appreciate you!
Matt, Sara, Elizabeth, Ruby, Hannah Mae & Ava

Friday, May 27, 2011

Three days old: Ava Pictures

When I came in this morning Ava was holding on to her brand new PIC
line (an IV that allows her to get rid of all the lines in her
umbilical cord.)

Granna came with me and we brought Ruby to meet her Ava Bean.

Ruby was IN LOVE. She stayed for 2 hours and didn't want to leave. A
child life specialist came and brought crafts and a few treats. Ruby
thoroughly enjoyed herself.

So far, I've gotten to hold her in "kangaroo care" every day! Today
Ava slept for 1 hour and 30 minutes on my chest. Ah-MAZING.

Afterwards, she camped out on her belly...and loved it. She's now
getting 4ccs (just a smidge less than 1 tsp) of my milk every 3

Thanks for your continued prayers. Matt has a nasty cold now
(Elizabeth's had one for over a week now and is finally pulling
through. When she's well, she'll get to visit Ava too.) and we're
praying the rest of us stay healthy.

Taking it one day at a time, by His grace,


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Introducing Ava Gabrielle Harms

Our girls names all have meanings or connections to people who are especially important to us. This little princess is no different. We've chosen Ava from the Hebrew word for "Life" and Gabrielle, which means "God is my strength". We're not sure if we're going to call her Ava or Gabby yet...we'll see what she grows into! I can't email them out, but have posted a few pictures on our blog from yesterday. She's under the Bili (blue UV) Lights (which isn't a surprise for our kiddos...they tend to be a bit jaundice no matter when the arrive). She's doing great...already getting some breast milk through her OG Tube (a tube that goes in her mouth and down into her belly, saving her the trouble of swallowing at this point). Yesterday I got to hold her for the first time...pure heaven. I'm ready to go try it again!
Love you all,

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Baby Harms has arrived

Surpise! Our little fighter was born around 8am, at 27 weeks + 5 days. She weighs a gianormous 2lbs 11oz and is a whopping 14 inches long. As you can see from the photo, she currently needs help breathing from a ventilator and has a few lines and tubes attached to her. For her age, she is doing quite well. To be safe though, she will be transferred to St Louis Children's Hospital later today. Being born this early has many risks and potential complications. Pray that she'll avoid every one of 'em.
Sara was amazing and is recovering quickly from all the drugs they've hit her with over the last three months. Pray that she'll get out of the hospital quickly so that she can see our little in person!
We love you all,
Matt + 5 (sounds like a TLC show?)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

We need a miracle

I'm back in pre-term labor and have been at the hospital for the weekend. You can see more on our blog from this last few days:
Now, even the magnesium drip is failing to keep my contractions at bay and the doctor's are pretty worried. Matt is at the hospital with me right now and mom is with the girls. Please pray.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mag Round Two

The middle of the night is not my best time of day. Probably to the chagrin of my OB, that seems to be the time when my contractions pick up and things get dicey. When we arrived last night, I was not dilated at all (good news) but the contractions were painful and there was no telling when they might cross over into being "effective" and cause cervical changes. Around 2am, after two shots and two rounds of oral meds to stop my contractions, we had to start magnesium again because I was dilating and effacing. So it's good that I came in when I did, but this doesn't bode well for going home.

As much as ever, I am convinced that the Lord has numbered this little one's days and knows exactly how many days she needs inside me...I am thankful she is still blissfully unaware and unaffected. My family is stable and happy at home, which is a huge relief to me since concern for the girls' well-being over such a long season of me being MIA causes me the most stress right now. I don't know if and when I'll get to go home, so we continue to covet your prayers for our family, your encouragement over email and phone, and all the practical help you've been.

Hanging in there by his grace,

Sent from my iPad

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hospital Round Three

I'm back in the hospital for contractions and bleeding. My mom was scheduled to fly home today (to celebrate her birthday tomorrow!) but graciously offered to postpone her departure until next week when Matt has some vacation days. We're bummed to be in this cycle again, but are so happy that baby girl looks good on ultrasound and we've only got 6 more days until we reach the 28 week mark. I'm going to get some rest and of course would covet your prayers. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Still taking things one day at a time

No news is definitely good news right now. I'm hoping to post an update tomorrow, but just in case the days keep passing, I wanted to let you know I'm still at home, the baby looked good on ultrasound today. I'm still dealing with symptoms and tinkering (per doctors orders) with my medications to try to keep things stable as long as possible. I seem to have recovered from the pre-term labor, so I'm not "on the brink of delivery", but my OB is concerned, based on some of my symptoms and the medications I have to take, that my amniotic fluid could break at any THAT's the major prayer request right now. We're thankful for each day that passes (on Thursday I'll be 27 weeks) and grateful we have my mom here to help until Friday evening.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Home again

I am so relieved to be writing from home tonight. I'm exhausted after a pretty intense week, but am so thankful for medications that have my contractions in check for now, an attentive OB, willing to tinker with my meds so that I could get home and see my family, and for the hope of a good night's rest in my own bed. My OB has every expectation that I'll be coming back into the hospital and wants me to have as much time at home with the family when it's possible. Of course we are praying instead that God would completely heal my bleeding and allow me to have a thoroughly mundane third trimester.

In the middle of all the craziness, Hannah Mae turns one tomorrow! I'm so glad to be home to give her lots of birthday snuggles. Thank you for all your prayers this past week and beyond. I know some of you went through the ringer with me on Wednesday night and covered me with your prayers...THANK YOU. I'm quite sure I'm not yet ready to process all that went on, but know that God protected my life and the life of our little girl as a result of your prayers.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Baby steps

While I'm feeling better as far as my symptoms from the mag go, as soon as we started weaning from the magnesium my contractions started picking up. I'm transitioning to some oral medications and are waiting for my contractions would begin to respond. Please continue to pray, we're not out of the woods yet!

Feeling A Million Times Better...

Thank God is mercies are new every morning.

On Monday night, when my OB told me he was going to give me a large dose (bolus) of magnesium "the mag" to stop my labor contractions followed by a maintenance dose to allow the steroid shots to start working on baby girls lungs, he compared what I was about to experience to "the forgotten weekend". Apparently, that's the term for the first dry weekend an alcoholic faces when they're trying to get sober...and it's miserable.

He wasn't far off...I would be okay if I forgot the last 36 hours....they were indeed miserable (thus no update) I won't bore you with details, you can google the side effects of magnesium sulfate...they're telling the truth! (as my mom put it, I looked "like death warmed over") BUT on the other side of it...with my mag sitting at a comfy rate per hour, and my body acclimated to many of the side effects, I have MUCH to be thankful for:

~As far as we can tell, my labor has stopped and my contractions are under control.
~The baby is blissfully unaware of, and seemingly unaffected by, all the drama
~In the midst of some really gnarly side effects of the mag, I did NOT throw up! Yay!
~Matt's mom got off and home safely & my mom arrived safely
~Thanks to many friends, we have groceries, clean laundry, warm dinners, and are feeling so loved.

This morning I looked good enough that they're going to introduce my oral meds for contraction control and wean me off the mag tonight. When we arrived, my OB said to plan to be here for at least a may be shorter, but that gives me something to wrap my head around. Our home and children are in good, capable hands and I'm free to try to get rest here, which has been rather elusive to this point.

We're still praying baby girl stays put for a LONG time, but if she's born in the next 3 weeks, she'll have the benefit of steroids to help her. We simply don't know what the future holds. I could bounce back from this, defy the statistics and have a full term baby (what we're praying for!!) or deliver any day that my body decides it wants to...we are truly not in control. But we have great peace, because we know God IS. We are clinging to His goodness, faithfulness and sovereignty every minute. I think often on the verse from Daniel 3 when Shadrach and his friends said to the king, "Our God, whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire!"....but if he doesn't we'll still worship HIM and not your statue! (my interpretation) We know God is at work. We feel His mercy and in the absence of the feelings, are trusting in His character which does not that leaves us in a pretty peaceful place, despite the craziness we see when we look around us.

Thank you for your prayers and emails, phone calls, texts and offers to're a tremendous blessing to our little clan.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Urgent prayer request

I'm now officially in pre-term only 25 weeks 4 days. That's about three months early, and still in the age zone where baby outcomes can be pretty bad. I've been put on magnesium to try and slow/stop the contractions and got a dose of steroids to try and help the baby's lungs develop. We are of course praying that the magnesium will do the trick, stop this labor, and allow us to avoid delivering anytime soon...will you join us?

Matt's mom leaves tomorrow evening and my mom arrives a few hours later...praise the Lord for both of them. The girls have all done beautifully through this craziness, but we'd covet your prayers for their little hearts and minds as well.

I'm told this mag is bound to make me feel terrible here in a few minutes, so I'm going to go, but would appreciate your prayers. Feel free to call email or text...all the prayers and encouragement are a blessing. Finally, matt, as always is by my side and work is taking a backseat...pray for strength, encouragement and favor for him. He's a rock.
Much love,

Friday, May 6, 2011

Week 25 Update

Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers and the thoughtful emails following my somewhat desperate email on Tuesday. The good news is, I am much encouraged and in a much better place thanks in part to your encouraging words and prayers and after spending some much needed time with the Lord. I do know that God is at work, and as Romans 8:28 says, He is working ALL things together for our good. I am reminded that his sovereign grace reaches far beyond what I can know and control, and He is, at all times, faithful. 

Since Tuesday, some of my symptoms have decreased a bit, and an ultrasound today revealed that the baby is still doing well and has enough room to swim. Sadly, I'm not out of the woods, as there is actually a brand new subchorionic bleed (clot) forming, which has appeared since Tuesday's ultrasound, but is about half the size of the former one. So, we're still waiting, watching, medicating and praying! 

Thanks again for your compassionate and faith-filled responses. We have no idea what's going to happen from one day to the next, but have such peace knowing that God is going ahead of us and no matter what we face, has already made provision for us.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Day After Day

I sent this email to our family and friends this morning:

Following the miraculous resolution of my subchorionic hemmorrage, I began to bleed and contract have been battling pre-term labor symptoms since. Praise God, I haven't crossed over in to actual preterm labor, (I'm 24 weeks) and the baby seems perfectly happy and healthy, but because my symptoms could throw me into pre-term labor the only way to determine that my symptoms aren't hazardous is to go into my OB to get checked and last week that resulted in 2 nights in the hospital. Matt's mom has arrived to help out for the next 10 days, then my mom will take over for another 10, which will get us to 27 weeks. But honestly, this is not sustainable. I was up at 3:45 this morning with painful contractions every 4 minutes...and then, after paging my Dr. 6:00 they slowed down. Just like that, every night my symptoms ramp up and Matt and I are left to decide if I need to go in to the hospital or if things might resolve by tinkering with my medications or just waiting it out...We need serious help. We need discernment to make decisions that feel are "way above our pay grade" especially when we're weighing the impact on my body, the baby, the rest of our family and Matt's work....wait, work? what work? He's trying to hold it together, but it's hard to be a full-time Dr. to me, Dad to the kids and employee at work. 

Would you pray for us?? We're so thankful Grandma has arrived, but we could use a little break in
 the action over here.